Quintana returns from IL to start vs. Pirates

September 22nd, 2020

The postseason format this October could put rotation depth to the test for some teams. That could make the return of veteran lefty an important development for the Cubs.

Quintana was activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday afternoon in time to start against the Pirates at PNC Park, live on MLB.TV at 6:05 p.m. CT. In a corresponding move, the Cubs optioned lefty Rex Brothers to the club's alternate training site in South Bend, Ind.

If everything goes well, Quintana would then be in line for a second start on Sunday against the White Sox. That will give the Cubs a window to evaluate whether Quintana fits into the postseason picture.

"I'll keep an eye on him," Ross said. "Obviously, I'm not going to overextend him. But I want to kind of give him a little bit of leash and communicate with him in-game and see how he feels."

Quintana has spent the bulk of this season on the injured list. He began the campaign shelved with a left thumb injury, returned on Aug. 25, made a pair of three-inning relief appearances and was shut down again due to a left lat injury. The lefty recently threw 35 pitches off a mound, tested his full arsenal and had no issues.

"I'm healthy. My arm, my body is really good right now," Quintana said Monday before the Cubs' series opener in Pittsburgh. "Right now, I'm really focusing on tomorrow. I don't know what's coming for me after tomorrow, but I want to be ready for any role David needs me."

This postseason, there will be no off-days between games in the Wild Card Series (best of three), Division Series (best of five) or Championship Series (best of seven). The Cubs have a strong one-two punch at the top with Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, with righty Alec Mills and Jon Lester behind them.

The Cubs currently lack a clear-cut fifth starter, making Quintana's return a plus for Chicago's depth. The North Siders have Adbert Alzolay and Tyson Miller at the alternate training site in South Bend, Ind., and righty Tyler Chatwood (right forearm) on the 10-day IL and potentially unavailable until late October.

"We didn't expect no off-days [in the playoffs]," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said on Sunday. "And that has a real impact. I think you're going to see a lot of teams throwing out bullpen days during October, because some teams aren't going to have enough starters to get through it.

"Listen, I don't want to look ahead too far. I'm sort of focused on this week coming up. But, certainly, the way Mills has stepped up [helps], and we know Jon's postseason pedigree. So hopefully people can stay healthy and we can avoid further attrition."

Worth noting
• Ross has made a few alterations to the Cubs' batting order in recent days, noting on Sunday that he was "just trying to get some flow to the lineup." For Monday's game, as an example, Kris Bryant was moved to the fifth spot after batting only in the Nos. 1-3 slots this season.

"In this particular [season]," Hoyer said Sunday, "it's sort of less about analytics and more just about, we're trying to see if something jump-starts us, right? I think we're sort of taking a shot and hoping that maybe guys hitting in different spots will give us a shot in the arm."

• After being pulled from Sunday's game, following a misplayed ball in the outfield, Kyle Schwarber met with reporters and took full accountability for the situation. Ross was asked Monday about how Schwarber handled the situation.

"Kyle Schwarber is a true professional in every sense of the word," Ross said. "And I'll leave it at that."

• Prior to Monday's game, the Cubs placed utility man Ildemaro Vargas on the 10-day IL (retroactive to Sunday) with a right hamstring strain. Alzolay was recalled from South Bend to give the Cubs an additional arm in the bullpen.

"You look up there and it's almost over, but this is 2020. At the end of this season, your numbers are not going to define who you are as a player at all. And so I think the definition for this group is still yet to come, for me. I'm proud of this group no matter what, but I think we've got some good baseball ahead of us, and good hitting is involved in that." -- Ross